Despite a weekend dominated by talk of horse racing, cricketers still got an opportunity to strut their stuff across the Yarra Valley.
With playing numbers at a premium, most clubs were able to fill their quota, while the junior competition was adjusted to see some exciting mid-week night matches to spice things up for the Yarra Valley’s youngest cricketers.
For Saturday’s games, the pick would have to be the close game between Seville and Healesville.
With both teams keen to taste victory for the first time this season, a cracking battle of cricket ensued.
Seville won the toss and elected to field, and this looked to be a master stroke as Tyson McKenzie (3/22) ripped through the top order to reduce the visitors to 3/9 in quick time.
With some strong leadership needed at the crease, Ash Hamer joined Dale Senior and their pair went about rescuing the situation with great effect.
Early on, they patiently weathered the storm with a combination of patience from Senior and calculated stroke play from Hamer.
The pair managed to navigate their way to 3/66 at drinks to give their team some hope of building a significant total.
Upon making a well-deserved half century, Hamer found himself the next man out, bowled by Marcus Smith with the score on 81.
This left the innings on a knife’s edge as Hamer had provided most of the scoring impetus.
Dermott Fry joined Senior at the wicket and despite their young age, the pair has plenty of cricketing experience.
A brisk 59-run partnership ensued, and Healesville soon found themselves in a position of strength.
Senior increased his scoring rate as the senior partner, and was desperately unlucky not to post a half-century of his own.
The score grew consistently at the back end of the innings, and when it was closed, the Bloods had reached a tidy score of 9/159.
Not a massive total by all means, but one that would take some chasing.
The battle was on from father first ball of Seville’s innings.
Most of Seville’s top order made starts but had trouble converting, and despite the scoreboard ticking over, regular wickets to Fry (2/25) and Josh McKenna (2/20), Seville found themselves in a spot of bother at 5/56 just after the drinks break.
Just when Seville was crying for some experienced leadership, Gary Frankovic (35) joined Tom Page (28) at the wicket and the pair turned the game on its ear.
In the space of 10 overs, they had raced the total to 5/125 and victory was all of a sudden a real possibility as the equation sat at 35 runs from the last 10 overs with five wickets still intact.
As would be the theme of the day, experience and leadership would prove to be vital.
With his team on the brink of slipping away to a disappointing loss, Hamer removed Frankovic and Page in the same over to turn the contest again.
Unperturbed, Seville’s tail pressed forward toward the total and looked to have seen the contest up with two wickets left in the bank with just six runs for a memorable victory.
Enter Tom Dalley.
The returning opening bowler produced when it mattered most and with two perfectly executed balls, ending the contest with Seville stuck on 154, five runs short of Healesville’s total clinching a fantastic victory.
While the Seville/Healesville clash was a tight one, reigning premiers Mount Evelyn produced another top performance in their complete dominance over Yarra Junction.
The Mounters won the toss and elected to bat.
With the Yarra Junction oval playing fairly slow, the visitors would have to work hard for every run.
Jesse Fraser and John O’Donnell had established a reasonable platform, but when Brad Nightingale (2/54) teamed with Nick Bark (3/33) things quickly turned for the Eagles as they reduced Mount Evelyn to 4/61.
Kevin Bomford joined the party to dismiss Gareth Fraser, and the Mount Evelyn middle to lower order were exposed for the first time this season as the innings sat on the edge at 5/81.
With experience coming to the fore, Brad and Luke Jones combined to produce an 84-run partnership that effectively ended the game.
Brad was the aggressor of the two, dominating the bowling for an impressive 68 runs, while Luke patiently accumulated at the other end.
The partnership led the visitors to significant total over 6/191, which would prove difficult to chase at any ground, let alone Yarra Junction’s.
Despite a spritely start, the challenge of the chase was going to prove difficult for the Eagles.
Darcy Fraser relished his opportunity with the new ball as his figures of 3/29 off 10 straight overs led the Mount Evelyn bowling unit.
The batsmen continually showed grit, particularly Matt Mallick (34) who was the mainstay of the innings, but it was in forlorn hope.
Chad Witherdin (3/22) took over from Fraser and controlled the back end of the innings.
Veterans Glen Thompson and Terry Ottrey battled on to ensure their team would not be bundled out, but in the end it was a comprehensive 75 run victory to Mount Evelyn as the Eagles could only muster 8/116.
With the unfortunate demise of Yarra Glen’s first eleven team, and their subsequent forfeiture from DJ Strachan Shield, Wandin will be welcomed back to the top flight from next week after nearly a decade of rebuilding after they found themselves in a similar predicament as Yarra Glen now find themselves in.
Their first assignment will be against Seville who will be itching to join the winner’s circle after some near misses to start the season.
This will give the Bulldogs the perfect opportunity to see where they stack up in the big league.
Yarra Junction host Healesville in a game that could prove vital for both sides.
The winner will create a break on the other, and despite being early in the season, these wins could prove vital to finals calculations.
Match of the round, however, would have to be the Grand Final rematch between Mount Evelyn and Warburton-Millgrove.
Both teams enter the game undefeated and will be desperate to keep this record intact.
Mount Evelyn have been clinical in their three victories thus far and would have to start favourites, but the Burras have shown their ability to respond when challenged and will be a little more match hardened going into the clash.
DJ STRACHAN SHIELD
Healesville 9/159 (A. Hamer 50, D. Senior 48, T. McKenzie 3/22, M. Smith 2/24, M. Sandfort 2/22) d Seville 10/154 (G. Frankovic 35, T. Page 28, J. McKenna 2/20, D. Fry 2/25, T. Dalley 2/33)
Mount Evelyn 6/191 (B. Jones 68, L. Jones 28*, N. Bark 3/33, B. Nightingale 2/54) d Yarra Junction 8/116 (M. Mallick 34, C. Witherdin 3/22, D. Fraser 3/29)
RA FINGER TROPHY
Seville 10/177 (M. Hardy 40, M. Been 26, D. Gale 22, C. Laycock 22, J. Baxter 3/39, A. Jakubowicz 3/46) d Healesville 10/146 (R. Nolan 36, B. Wallace 35, M. Beri 4/32, D. Wallace 3/21)
Wandin Blue 3/124 (A. Walker 35*, B. Edwards 29, M. Potter 2/22) d Mount Evelyn 10/121 (D. Westaway 27, A. Whiting 23, E. Alderman 4/22, D. Hummer 2/30)
Woori Yallock 6/102 (D. Worlley 24, C. Ferguson 16, R. Prouse 3/36, M. Tilney 2/21) d Gruyere District 10/99 (M. Tilney 55, E. Blain 12, A. Dunne 3/17, C. Ferguson 2/26)
Yarra Glen 3/189 (D. Brambilla 76*, C. Foster 48, S. Fordham 36, A. Robertson 2/43, B. Sinclair 1/27) d Hoddles Creek 7/188 (S. Robertson 47, G. Derix 28, J. Jenkinson 28, J. Woods 3/34, J. Orren 2/21, D. Brambilla 2/30)
Marysville 5/183 (L. Ronalds 74, C. Piggot 53, C. Voigt 2/34) d Launching Place 8/134 (C. Sharman 87*, L. Ronalds 2/5, C. Piggott 2/17)
Seville 3/146 (D. DiPietro 55*, D. Knight 45*, M. Bluett 1/10, R. Gibson 1/24) d Gruyere District 7/136 (S. Lowe 66, M. Bluett 24, M. Wynd 3/10, D. DiPietro 1/9)
Launching Place 9/133 (G. Black 33, D. Van Eijk 23, M. Nikcevich 2/9, C. Nyko 2/24) d Healesville 10/94 (J. Drummond 29, J. O’Kane 28, C. Anderson 17, G. Black 5/17)
Wandin 2/133 (W. Paluso 53, B. McKenzie 49, D. Potter 1/10, L. Dunn 1/25) d Mount Evelyn 7/120 (G. Finkmyer 26, B. Shepherd 22, P. Laws 1/2, J. Wilson 1/9)
Yarra Junction 6/125 (R. Boxell 44*, L. Vandervlugt 30*, P. Osborne 35, L. Riddleford 5/16) d Coldstream 10/118 (B. Rhodes 41, A. Steele 34 T. Pilton 3/15, L. Vandervlugt 2/20)
Powelltown 10/164 (G. McRorie 51, J. Ling 42*, D. Andell 36, G. Nicolandos 2/18, B. Norfolk 2/30) d Warburton-Millgrove 8/123 (K. McDonald 29*, A. Clarke 3/15, D. Andell 2/1)
16 AND UNDER
Healesville 5/119 (S. Gebert 39*, A. Boyle 23*, T. Noar 2/3) d Coldstream 5/73 (A. Steele 22, C. Dennis 2/6)
Yarra Junction 4/75 (L. O’Dea 31*) d Mount Evelyn/Launching Place 4/63 (R. Williams 13, R. Vassallo 2/15)
Healesville 7/110 (C. Anderson 27*, T. Noar 3/27, D. Randall 2/3) d Coldstream/Mount Evelyn 4/58 (T. Noar 20*, C. Anderson 1/1, B. Fitzpatrick 1/2, M. Thompson 1/5, H. Burchmore 1/14)
Yarra Junction/Launching Place 8/120 (Z. Kneebone 39, R. Foley 20, L. Theobold 13, L. Timoney 2/13, H. Smith 2/3, R. Lambie 1/1) d Seville 9/94 (J. Hook 32, H. Smith 15, T. Cope 3/5, D. Carvil 2/10)
Hoddles Creek 1/77 d Warburton-Millgrove 6/65 (R. Staggard 13, R. Thompson 11)
Healesville Red 5/113 (A. Biddiscome 36*, D. English 30*, J. Dossor 14*, B. Davey 2/13) d Yarra Glen Red 2/112 (B. Davey 16*, L. Pearse 14, L. Robinson 1/28)
Seville 4/101 (Ja. Barry 26, J. Keebone 21, T. Scott 11, B. Urquart 1/8, S. Harrison 1/12, T. Hunter, 1/13, J. Darwall 1/14) d Warburton-Millgrove 4/88 (K. Wynham 11, T. Hunter 7, Z. Wynham 7, N. Lucas 5, J. Kneebone 3/2, Jo. Barry 1/3)
Launching Place 2/101 (L. Parker 30*, E. Bradley 21*, M. Poulton 1/7, G. Lyons 1/16) d Hoddles Creek 5/77 (W. Pearce 15, M. Poulton 14, L. Parker 1/2, L. Dunne 1/8)